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Gobby Team Over the Moon with Innovation Nomination
Stealth EducationMay 10, 2012 00:00 BST
The ELTons is the only international awards ceremony to celebrate innovation in the field of English language teaching (ELT). Run by the British Council and sponsored by Cambridge ESOL, it showcases excellence and novelty in the ever-expanding and increasingly compeititive multi-billion dollar English language market.
2012 sees an unusual finalist hoping to walk away with a prize – the team behind Gobby, an app that gives language students and business people the inside track on those peculiar phrases that add so much colour and humour to the English langauge.
“If you’ve got Gobby, it’s a bit like turning on the subtitles on a DVD — suddenly you understand what’s going on”
Gobby is an innovative iPhone and Android application that helps explain the meaning of frequently used English idioms in everyday speech. The app provides users with the meaning of each phrase, an example of how it’s used, and audio for pronunciation. The audio is delivered by a range of Brits living, studying and working in London to help users understand different accents, and the content is crowd-sourced to provide a superb selection of 300 phrases for those eager to get their head round the peculiarities of British convertsation.
Gobby’s idioms are divided into 10 useful categories, including Love and Romance, Work and Business, and London English.
The app’s Chilli-O-Meter indicates how strong - or spicy - each idiom is, providing a quick reference as to when and where they should be used, so users don’t end up in hot water! The lower the Chilli rating, the more you can comfortably use the phrase in almost any situation.
The highest Chilli rating is reserved for idioms that are not appropriate for formal or business environments.
The idea for Gobby arose when its developers, while travelling in China, Singapore, and Japan, found that fluent speakers of English were unfamiliar with common idioms. Furthermore, they found foreign graduates in London, even after studying for years at British universities, did not understand popular phrases such as ‘A cushy number’ and ‘He really knows his onions’.
“There’s something about learning an idiom – in any language – which makes you laugh and feel like you’re getting the inside track. That’s what Gobby is all about.”
English is arguably the most idiomatic language on the planet. Apart from the simple and pure delight in relishing the richness and humour of idioms, dropping a well-chosen idiom during converaation separates novices from masters of the English language.
And there’s real value to be had by learning Gobby phrases: the ability to weave in idioms is essential for people who have to interact with native speakers on a regular basis, not to mention those who rely on those interactions to clinch a business deal or score extra academic credits.
“Gobby is building an international community learners – and they’re teaching each other”
The development of Gobby and future products is driven by a community of followers on its website and social media channels. Users are taking part in conversations online about what idioms they find most confusing, and suggesting what they would like to see as the next add-on phrase package for the app.
Find Gobby at www.gobbytalk.com on Twitter (@GobbyTalk) and Facebook to join in with the Gobby community to contribute ideas and make requests for future Gobby products, and to receive news and updates on the launch of the app.